When we were in Puerto Rico, more specifically, Old San Juan, there were a lot of stray cats roaming about. My daughter counted fifty! While I was waiting for her from plopping down on the sidewalk to pet cats, I noticed a sign stating is was against the law to feed the stray cats. I got to wondering if that was a ridiculous law or not. I can understand the local government not wanting to encourage the cats but wouldn't that be more effective through neutering? I mean, the cats are already there. Stop and ponder this for a moment...are there any ridiculous laws you live by?
Maybe one of the most "ridiculous laws" is guilt. If I maintain my guilt and keep it functionally organized in the compartments of my head, I will never lose track of it. And, if I don't lose track of it, I can keep punishing myself for whatever reason I brought in the guilt in the first place. Because then, the haunting of my guilt, like a shadow attached to its form, can never allow me to let go and forgive BECAUSE that would mean acceptance of the initial act or thought or word (phew! Deep breath...) And, acceptance might translate into it all being okay when it is clearly not because if it had been okay it would not have elicited guilt at all! Such an unending, unforgiving circle. I purposely made all of that run on and on because that is what guilt does in our head. It makes us go over and over the circumstance when, really, we should just let go and move on.
Marge Kennedy wrote, "Hard though it may be to accept, remember that guilt is sometimes a friendly internal voice reminding you that you're messing up." This may be initially true. A little bit of a nudge to remind you that you seemed to have strayed from your intuitive heart. It is in allowing yourself to wallow in your guilt that becomes offensive to your Spirit and causes you to create your very own suffering.
Sally Kempton shares this story: "My teacher, Swami Muktananda, used to tell a story... There were once two monasteries, each located close to a big city. In one monastery, the students were told that human beings were sinners and that intense vigilance and penance were the only ways the students could avoid their sinful tendencies. In the other monastery, the students were encouraged to believe in their fundamental goodness, and to trust their hearts. One day, a young man in each of these monasteries decided that he needed a respite from monastic life. Each boy sneaked out his dormitory window, hitched a ride to the nearby city, found a party, and ended up spending the night with a prostitute. The next morning, the boy from the "sinner" monastery was overcome with punishing remorse. He thought, "I've fallen irrevocably from the path. There's no point in my going back." He didn't return to his monastery and soon became part of a street gang.
"The second boy also woke up with a hangover. But his response to the situation was very different. "That was not as satisfying as I imagined it would be," he thought. "I don't think I'll do that again anytime soon." Then he went back to his monastery, climbed in the window, and was admonished for sneaking out at night. My teacher would say that when we believe that we are sinners, a very small slip can send us spiraling into a pattern of self-destructive action. But when we know, as the yoga sages tell us, that we are fundamentally divine, that we are all Buddhas, it's much easier to forgive ourselves for the bad or unskillful things we do. It's also easier to change our behavior. "
Our soul's come to Earth to learn. Why else would they leave perfection? You can't learn in the midst of perfection because there are no mistakes to learn from. I would argue that maybe there are no mistakes on Earth, either, merely learning lessons but grasp the point...if you do not intend to learn fro your 'mistakes' and move on, what is the upside to your self-induced punishment? Letting go of guilt is the lesson. Unbinding your spirit from earthly chains. Learning that forgiveness of the Self has to be one of the most important and awesome lessons ever.
Please be aware that guilt is ego-bound. The ego appreciates you hanging out in guilt-mode! Because, in guilt-mode, you are bound in fear. Fear allows the ego to grip you. You cannot be present because you are worrying about something else, be it past or futuristic, and worry is irrational fear. Once bound, the feet find it difficult to move forward. Let go, let go, let go... Don't just want it; do it. Be so thirsty for freedom you can taste its sweetness on your tongue. And, how refreshing to know you have the power to free yourself.